Activist climbs Seattle tree to stop it from being cut down for housing

Jul 14, 2023, 6:46 PM

Activist Droplet stays in tree to prevent it from being cut down, neighbors rally behind effort. (Kate Stone) Activist Droplet stays in tree to prevent it from being cut down, neighbors rally behind effort. (Kate Stone)

An activist climbed up a red cedar in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood Friday in hopes to save it from the saw as the city approved for it to be cut down to make way for a six-unit residential building.

Seattle officials said it’s unlikely the company hired to cut down the tree will get their permit by the end of the day Friday.

More on Seattle trees: City Council passes stronger tree protection ordinance

“There’s a whole network of folks in a beautiful city who care about protecting old trees like this,” the activist, known as “Droplet,” told KIRO 7. “I’ve set up with some friends an occupation of the street to prevent Legacy Group Capital from cutting it.”

Droplet claimed he will stay in the tree until the developer on this project changes their plan to cut the cedar down. He strung a hammock amid the branches while neighbors are bringing him supplies.

“I just want them both to happen concurrently,” Ryan Joyce, one of the activist’s neighbors, told KIRO Newsradio. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think we can develop affordable housing and preserve our natural beauty.”

The city said the tree removal company hasn’t waited out the public notice period yet. The tree is currently listed on Seattle’s list of “exceptional” trees. According to the city of Seattle’s Municipal Code, an “exceptional tree” is “a tree or group of trees that because of its unique historical, ecological, or aesthetic value constitutes an important community resource, and is deemed as such by the Director according to standards promulgated by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.”

More from Kate Stone: Washington is the most expensive state to buy gas for first time in history

“I spoke with arborists and architects and they’re saying this is happening all the time. The tree ordinance does not protect these trees,” Joyce said. “I thought if it was above a certain diameter, it would be protected and that’s absolutely not the case. If a developer buys a property, they have carte blanche to take down every tree on that property.”

Legacy Group Capital, the developer of the six-unit building, released a statement to KIRO 7 following the activist’s decision to prevent the tree from being cut down:

One of Legacy’s core principles is to facilitate the development of affordable housing, which is in high demand and desperately needed in this region and market. We understand the importance of striking a balance between addressing the housing crisis and being responsible stewards of our natural surroundings. While we are not the owner of this project, we are the lender and assisted the builder in their permitting. We understand the sensitive nature of the tree canopy, we all live in this area and share a collective commitment to the preservation and enhancement of our local environment. Legacy is in the practice of removing trees only when absolutely necessary after careful consideration of the site’s constraints and approval by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.

In March, the city of Seattle released the final 2021 Tree Canopy Assessment showing the city has lost 255 acres of tree canopy since 2016 — an approximate 1.7% relative decline in the amount of tree coverage around the city.

More on Seattle trees: City of Seattle has less tree cover than 5 years ago

“The designers actually had original plans that preserve this tree while building the six units they intended to build,” Joyce added. “I think that should be the priority for the city.”

Local News

Image: The Jantzen Beach carousel was installed in June 1928 at the amusement park that once stood ...

Feliks Banel

Beloved, and huge, Jantzen Beach Carousel gets a new home

A beloved Portland area landmark – a vintage carousel from the 1920s – is hitting the trail for points east.

1 hour ago

Image: A view of Amazon Prime Video logo projected on a sail at a reception for Season 2 of "Modern...

the MyNorthwest staff with wire reports

Amazon Prime Video will soon have ads, or a $2.99 monthly charge to dodge them

Amazon Prime Video will include advertising during shows and movies starting early next year, joining other streaming services.

3 hours ago

weather Seattle sunshine flooding...

L.B. Gilbert

As summer ends, Seattle will feel fall fast with ‘first heavy rainfall’

As Friday brings the last official day of summer, it will start to feel like fall incredibly fast with the first heavy rain of the season expected.

8 hours ago

Image: A Bellevue Police Department vehicle...

Briseida Holguin, KIRO 7

Suspect arrested after strangling Bellevue officer, stealing police car

A Bellevue Police officer is at home recovering after being strangled by a burglary suspect early Saturday morning.

8 hours ago

Photo: A photo of Lumen Field during the preseason game against the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seaha...

Julia Dallas, KIRO 7

New study ranks Lumen Field as one of most dangerous stadiums in US

A new study by Sportsbook Review found that the zip code surrounding Lumen Field is the second highest in local crime compared to other stadium zip codes in the US.

1 day ago

Phoenix heat...

Associated Press

Arizona’s sweltering summer could set new record for most heat-associated deaths in big metro

PHOENIX (AP) — America’s hottest metro area is on track to set an annual record for heat-associated deaths after a sweltering summer, particularly in Phoenix. Public health officials in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and Arizona’s most populous county, said Friday that 289 heat-associated deaths were confirmed as of Sept. 16, with another 262 deaths […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Activist climbs Seattle tree to stop it from being cut down for housing